London’s annual musical theatre festival West End Live returned this weekend showcasing the best of the West End. As thousands gathered in Trafalgar Square, the casts of West End shows took to the stage to perform a set of songs from their hit musicals.
Not only is West End Live completely free to attend, but it allows musical theatre fans to come together and experience theatre in a different way, with the freedom to sing and dance along, the atmosphere in Trafalgar Square is indescribable.
Eva Noblezada and Rachelle Ann Go led the cast of Les Mis, the longest running show on the West End. After appearing at West End Live last year in Miss Saigon, they wowed the audience yet again this year as the two most iconic female musical theatre roles. As they took to the stage to perform a stunning duet of I Dreamed a Dream and On My Own, this glorious rendition had the crowd in awe of their breathtaking harmonies. Following their duet, the rest of the Les Mis cast joined them on stage to perform the ground-breaking One Day More that brought out the passion in the audience as the power from the crowd’s singing was remarkable.
The cast of Kinky Boots made their West End Live debut in style as they strut onto the stage to perform a high-powered performance of Raise You Up / Just Be. Their fierce performance proves they have earned their name as the sassiest musical on the West End. Based on a true story, with music by Cyndi Lauper and containing award winning choreography, Kinky Boots is currently capturing the hearts of audience at the Adelphi Theatre.
Kinky Boot’s dynamic performance shone a spotlight on the strength of their understudies as Arun Blair-Mangat displayed his commanding stage presence as the vivacious Lola. Alongside him Paul Ayres took to the stage in his sparkling Kinky Boots as the lead Charlie.
Although Matilda performed Naughty for the third year running, Zaris-Angel Hator gave a beautifully animated performance as young Matilda. She melted the hearts of the audience as she displayed the feisty and brave nature of the role through her exceptional characterisation – a true star.
A musical that has excelled since opening at the Cambridge Theatre in 2011, with a heart-rending storyline and captivating lyrics by Tim Minchin, Matilda is a touching show about a young girl who fights against her narrow-minded parents and overcomes many obstacles to embrace her love of stories.
Another show that highlighted the sheer talent of kids in the industry was the cast of The Secret Garden, which is set to open at the Ambassadors Theatre this August. Singing a variety of numbers from the musical, the dazzling score by Lucy Simon is done incredible justice by the cast of phenomenal young performers, particularly Matthew Nicholas and Scarlett Smith’s exceptional stand-out vocals.
Another unforgettable moment was during the cast of Phantom of the Opera’s set, with an extravagant opening of Masquerade complete with full costume and astounding vocal power. During their second number, Music Of The Night, Christine (Lisa-Anne Wood) was joined by not one, but four Phantom’s from the production’s past and present. Ben Forster, Scott Davies, Jeremy Secomb and Peter Lockyer gave an extraordinary performance as the dark and deeply mysterious Phantom.
There was an utterly magical feeling in the air as musical theatre fans rejoiced in the beauty and diversity of London’s West End. However the most memorable moment was when the cast of Mamma Mia joined the crowd in a minute’s applause for the victims of the horrific Orlando attacks and MP Jo Cox.
With theatre being a prime example of embracing people for who they are, no matter what sexuality or nationality, it was a highly poignant moment as thousands of people came together to recognise such a devastating tragedy.